I am an atheist. Fortunately I live in the United States where that is a statement I am free to make. (Unless you live in the South.)
To put it more accurately I am an agnostic. I dislike this term, however. I see no evidence in the universe for a “God” so I see no reason to posit one – Occam’s Razor and all that. (Prior to the Big Bang there was either something or nothing, neither of which make any sense to a brain like mine that evolved to seek out food, shelter, and opportunities for reproduction. If you want to say It came from God or It came from nothing, go ahead. Neither, as I said, makes any sense. How can something come from nothing? How can you have an uncaused cause?)
Where I differ from my fellow atheists is that I see value in religion. I do not like its political application (see: the entire history of the Catholic Church) but I do think it is important to get together regularly – once a week, say – to marvel at our lives and discuss how to live good ones knowing that our time is fleeting.
This is what draws me to Buddhism. Of all the religions I have found, it seems to be the most flexible and adaptable. It’s most famous spokesman has recently written a book wondering if “religion” as it has historically been defined is even necessary or desirable anymore. Compare that with pretty much every major religious figure in the world today.
Buddhism posits no God. It doesn’t require one to believe that the creator of the universe (a universe which every day we learn to be exponentially more amazing than we can ever conceive) cared an awful lot about a tribe of nomads living in the desert of a small planet in the corner of a relatively insignificant galaxy a few thousand years ago.
It requires an honest appraisal of our human situation, namely this: everything changes.
And the more we learn about the universe, the more profound this statement becomes. Everything we have yet discovered, does change. God, as the notion has traditionally been defined, provides a constant we can take refuge in. Buddhism starts where western religions have feared to tread.
Everything changes. We will get sick. We will age. We will die. Yet amid this, we can find a way to lead good and happy lives. This is where you find true beauty. Not in hiding from the facts of life, but in facing them head on and finding solace and comfort among your fellow humans.
I will probably write more about the details of “Buddhism” in the future, but for now I just want to say that though I am a Godless pagan, I firmly believe in the power and value of religion. I just think that religion needs to evolve.